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A Superintendent Knocking Down Silo Walls

Implementing bold ideas to improve school operations

by Dr. Rod Berger

Jim McKay, the superintendent of Community High School District 117 in Northern Lake County, Illinois, has been in his district for 17 years. I asked him about his path to the superintendency, and he said he had never planned on being a superintendent, but it finally came down to answering the thought, “If not me, who?”

Jim is certainly a straight shooter who isn’t afraid to speak his mind and explore bold ideas that go against tradition in a search to improve the operations of his school and increase offerings for his students. He is a fan of shared services and has teamed up with other organizations to divide the cost of road salt, paper sheets, and even the cost of printing a quarterly magazine for the residents of the community.

In a state where many small districts are making up an area that in many states would be demarcated as one large district, Jim is working to team with smaller districts to share services that save money and make everyone’s jobs easier. You can tell by his tone that he is passionate about his work and I predict he will be knocking down the walls of the traditional silos sooner rather than later.

About Jim McKay

Jim McKay has been the superintendent of Community High School District 117 in Northern Lake County, Illinois, since 2012. McKay left a job as a science teacher in the Boston area in 2000 and began his tenure with CHSD117 with four years as a chemistry and physics teacher at Antioch High School.

He moved up to assistant principal for curriculum and instruction for two years. From there he became Lakes High School’s principal for three years. McKay was chosen along with Antioch High School’s then-principal to serve as the district’s co-superintendents in 2009, before becoming the district’s sole superintendent.

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post by Dr. Rod Berger.

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